(Guadalupe, California – October 6, 2014)
An agricultural contractor, attempting to cross Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of a farm access road leading to a Guadalupe, CA-area celery field miraculously suffered non-life threatening injuries when his pickup truck was split in half by a northbound Amtrak passenger train traveling at 60 mph with 250 passengers on board Monday afternoon at about 3:02 P.M., PDT.
The victim, whom field owner Michael Mahoney would not identify by name, was sent to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, CA for treatment of undisclosed injuries.
The crash, which occurred at a crossing that is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates, sent the divided vehicle’s halves careening into several unoccupied vehicles parked beyond the crossing on the celery field side of the tracks.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver all know lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
California Highway Patrol Officers who responded to the scene told news media that the accident occurred on private property, and therefore UPRR would be the authority to handle the investigation.
A daily average of nine Amtrak passenger and Union Pacific freight trains traverse the crossing at maximum allowable speeds of 60 mph.